Choosing the Right Client, the Right Executive, and the Right Issue
After working for over a year with a large consumer products company, my client was at the end of her rope. Her main contact was a vice president who was enthusiastic about her firm, but who struggled to get budget approval for each successive assignment. Two other competitors worked directly with the CEO and the business unit heads, and it was impossible to get her work noticed at the senior management level—not least because the vice president did not feel confident enough about his own power base to push to get his ideas and proposals onto the table. The relationship generated modest fees—income which, on the one hand, represented a reassuring revenue stream, but which, on the other hand, was becoming a distraction from pursuing bigger fish. Her client had lots of ideas about changing the organization, but he lacked the authority and clout to actually do anything about them, and their wide-ranging discussions about how to improve the company's operations never went anywhere.
Does this story sound familiar? Most professionals have had a client like this. Once you are in the middle of this type of situation, however, it's very hard to fix it. By being more discerning at the beginning of the relationship about which client, executive, and issues you will engage with, you can dramatically reduce the odds that you'll end up stymied like this.
Effective client targeting ...